For the record, there was only one Timmy McQueeney running about on Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field Saturday morning. One might have wondered if there was some cloning technology going on as the Shoreham-Wading River soccer player was here, there and seemingly everywhere all at once.
The fleet-footed McQueeney not only covers a great deal of ground, but he does so quickly, with exceptional ball skills, to boot.
Asked what stands out about the way McQueeney plays, teammate Justin Depaoli answered: “Everything, like he’s an amazing player. I mean, yeah, basically everything. It just seems like he doesn’t even make mistakes. It’s just crazy.”
It sure seemed as if McQueeney did everything right Saturday, using pinpoint passing to assist on the first two goals before scoring the third himself for a 3-0 lead over visiting Eastport-South Manor. The Wildcats then held on for a 3-2 non-league win.
“I thought he played phenomenal,” said SWR coach Rob Mancuso.
McQueeney has been having a phenomenal season, as have the Wildcats. With Saturday’s masterpiece, the senior has 10 goals and 11 assists this season for Suffolk County League VI-leading SWR (10-1, 9-1).
McQueeney played as an outside midfielder as a junior, but has been moved inside as a central attacking midfielder, a position ideally suited for him “and I just made the most of it,” he said.
Indeed he has.
As it turned out, McQueeney’s goal was critical. It was a work of art, too. After an exchange with Benjamin Panasci, McQueeney curved a brilliant left-footed strike away from goalkeeper Luke Thorley (eight saves) and just inside the far left goalpost. Real nice.
“I knew it was going to be on goal,” McQueeney said. “I didn’t realize that it was going to hit the [inside] side netting, really be out of reach for the goalkeeper but, you know, it felt good right when it left my foot.”
That goal 3 minutes, 28 seconds into the second half made it 3-0, but proved to be the game-winner. Just when it appeared as if SWR had victory safe in hand, ESM (6-6-1, 6-5 League IV) made things interesting with a pair of goals. Bryan Luper drilled a shot to the right corner after a pass from Emir Dogan at 49:49. Then, 10:17 later, Dogan scored himself off a feed from Luper, beating goalie Will Devall to the right.
SWR scored its first two goals in the final 11:25 of the first half. First, McQueeney found Depaoli, who made no mistake depositing the ball properly for his ninth goal of the season. Then McQueeney served a ball into the middle for Ryan Menno, whose first-time redirect was on the mark for his second strike of the season.
ESM was missing seven players for reasons ranging from COVID quarantine to red-card suspension to concussions, said coach Dave Flaherty.
SWR seems to have picked up right where it left off from the compact spring season when the team went 9-2 and reached the Suffolk Class A quarterfinals. Mancuso figures the Wildcats have lost 25 players to graduation over the last two years and yet, one wouldn’t know it by the team’s performance.
SWR typically starts four seniors: center back Francisco Cortes, McQueeney, Depaoli and Devall. With Cortes unavailable Saturday, industrious striker Nick Nowak was moved to right back and turned in an admirable performance. The defense has three new starters in Tommy Daggett, Luke Gorman and Tanner Cummings. They all played for the junior varsity team this past spring.
And yet, SWR has outscored its opponents, 38-7, and posted six shutouts.
“I love the way we keep the ball on the ground, you know,” McQueeney said. “We’re a little bit unlike stereotypical school ball teams [that] are kicking it long and running. We keep it on the ground, try and play simple, and I think that’s the difficult part for teams to have to guard us when we’re playing like that.”
McQueeney surely looks as if he has college soccer in his future (he’s thinking at the Division II or III level).
“Without a doubt,” Mancuso said. “I mean, you pretty much have to bring him down to get the ball off his foot, and I’ve said it to him before — he’s hit passes that I didn’t see materializing until he hits the ball. You know, he’s a very, very smart soccer player and we benefit a lot through the middle because of him.”
That would be the one and only one Timmy McQueeney patrolling the field Saturday.